New solutions offered for dealing with knee pain.
You’ve worked hard, retired and finally have the tie to play golf, but you can’t enjoy yourself due to irritating knee pain when you walk to the 19th hole in goft court. Sounds familiar? What should you do? This article explores the most common cause of knee pain and the latest solutions for treatment.
Knee pain caused by osteoarthritis is very common for people above the age of 50, and can start as early as the 30s and 40s. Daily pain and stiffness is characteristic and even climbing stairs or roaming a shopping mall can be difficult due to pain and swelling of the knee. Just how common is it? It has been found that:
One in every three adults has knee arthritis 50% of people above 65 years of age have arthritis. Pain from osteoarthritis limits everyday physical activity more than cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
Arthritis is one of the biggest causes of lost wages in many countries. Treatment, complications and disability costs can run into billions of dollars.
This year’s figures put the number of osteoarthritis sufferers at almost 20 million people. More active populations suffer from knee arthritis at a younger age.
What causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, often simply called OA is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in one or more joints.
Cartilage is 65 to 80 percent water, collagen, proteoglycans and chondrocytes (cells that make cartilage). Cartilage is a hard but smooth tissue which acts as a shock absorbing cushion between the bones of joints and allows movements.
When cartilage loss occurs due to wear & tear, the joint can deteriorate to the point of bone grinding against bone. There are other changes around the joint, muscles weaken, swelling can occur, bone spurs can develop, causing severe chronic pain, loss of mobility, and disability
Knee arthritis sufferers complain of pain, swelling, morning stiffness, difficulty squatting and leg muscle weakness, all of which worsen with time.
The decrease in muscle strength and associated loss of balance associated with OA greatly increases one’s chances of falling and can lead to life threatening hip or spinal fractures.
Weight- bearing X-rays are used to properly diagnose Knee OA. On examination of the x-rays, a narrowing of the joint spaces is one of the signs used to confirm OA. Blood tests can be used to rule out other causes of arthritis if your doctor needs further confirmation.
OA – Take care of it early!
It is important to get the condition treated as early as possible. As they say “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
Many people manage their pain with medication, while some do not receive any treatment and are simply left to wait until surgery becomes the only remaining option.
The medications most commonly used are anti-inflammatory drugs, which can cause stomach discomfort (gastric pain) and over time more serious side-effects to the kidney and other organs.
Knee surgeries to realign the joint and decrease mechanical stress affecting the joint may be an option for some patients.
Total or partial knee replacement surgery is the current standard treatment for osteoarthritis of the knees but often only provides a temporary solution.
Further replacement surgery may be needed in a few years. Major surgery is also an issue in patients with heart disease or diabetes as there are issues of safety, delayed healing and infection.
Mechanical problem – mechanical solution
Knee OA is considered a biomechanical problem, that is, a problem with the movement of the knee. As such a biomechanical solution offers the best hope for resolving and treating the problem effectively.
Massive innovation in technology has helped develop a brace to prevent the bone-on-bone contact that causes the rapid progression of degeneration in knee arthritis.
Simply stated the brace opens up the space between the bones or “unloads” the joint when the person is weight bearing (walking or standing).
This stops the bones from rubbing against one another allowing the damaged ends of the bones to repair optimally, decreasing the joint irritation, swelling and pain. If used early enough a joint replacement may be prevented.
For patients with already established and diagnosed knee arthritis, unloading the knees is extremely beneficial. Not only are the degenerative processes slowed down but the effectiveness of injectable therapies and medication can be enhanced.
The principle is simple. For knee pain from arthritis to be reduced, any therapy provided should focus on reducing bone on bone contact. Unloader bracing effectively achieves this.
“Unloading” bracing technology is well researched and backed by over 20 studies conducted throughout the world.
Recent research presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting in March 2010 showed that patients using “Unloader One” knee braces have decreased pain, improvement in function and stiffness and significant reduction in use of pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Research has shown that bracing is 2-3 times more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Bracing is very low risk and economical especially compared to surgery.
Recent developments suggest that the use of Unloader knee bracing in combination with Injectable therapies such as Hyaluronic Acid (HLA) or Platelet rich plasma (PrP) offer the next step forward in alleviating the suffering of OA.
For Malaysians there are now viable options to surgery- effective diagnosis and bracing is the non-surgical way forward for treating knee pain sufferers. For more information about knee OA solutions visit: www.kneepain.com.my